‘Are you all right?’
Mobile phone, middle of the night. Fazed, fuzzy-headed with sleep. Who’s this?
‘Is everything all right, love?’ It’s Fliss.
‘The phone rang, they said to get over to yours,’ she says, ‘Your alarm went off, they said the primary key holder, aka me, had to meet the police there’.
What a night. Earlier, the house alarm shrieked off for no apparent reason just after it had been set. I reset it. Twenty minutes later the police arrived. Two of them. They woke me, hammering on the door, torches scanning the garden then up at me, blinding. They grumbled off as I sleepily reassured them all was fine. And now, Fliss, yabbering down the phone.
‘I came over but it was all in darkness and no police. I couldn’t get out the car in case there was someone there, no good me being killed as well. I didn’t know what to do,’ she said. ‘I waited a while, but nothing happened. So I decided that you must be OK and came home. I tried your landline again, still no reply.’ She muttered something under her breath, then, ‘So then I tried your mobile hoping you’d got it upstairs not in your handbag downstairs. I wouldn’t have slept unless I spoke to you, to make sure you’re all right. You are all right aren’t you?’
Oh Christ, I think, I’ll never hear the end of this; then I feel shamefaced because Fliss is my best friend, I love her to bits, but she does go on. ‘I’m so sorry you came all this way for nothing,’ I say, ‘The police must have gone before you …, I’m so sorry’.
Fliss is carrying on, ‘I was in bed, asleep, and they said I had to go to meet the police at yours. I had to find your keys,’ she said, ‘not easy … I found them eventually.’ I could hear the keys rattling as she shook them in her hands. ‘There are two, one’s a green tab and one’s a gold,’ she continued, ‘I suppose one’s front, one’s back, I wouldn’t know which was which. I had to get dressed and come over.’ Fliss was starting to shout, ‘Nothing was happening. I had to reverse the car out onto that busy main road. I was frightened to death, that road’s so busy. I could be killed by some maniac tearing past your place.’
Hardly, I thought, not in the middle of the night. But Fliss was still holding forth:
“Well, a million things go through your mind. On the way home I was worried, had I done the right thing? I kept thinking, what if they’re all dead, or the burglars are holding them at knifepoint and they saw my car and turned off all the lights?’
‘It’s OK, Fliss,’ I say, taking advantage of her need to draw breath, ‘We’re fine, the alarm just went off.’
I put my slowness down to being woken from sleep, but for whatever reason a thought now occurred to me, ‘Have they called you before?’ I ask.
‘No,’ she says, very succinct for Fliss.
‘That’s a bit weird, we’ve had the alarm for 14 years and it does go off from time-to-time.’
‘Well, they phoned me tonight.’
‘Who phoned you tonight?’
‘Your alarm company, they said I had to go to meet the police at yours, they were most insistent. Perhaps they’ve had a change in policy?’
I didn’t want to go down that road right now, so I said, ‘Something for me to follow up tomorrow. Where are you now Fliss?’ I am feeling distinctly shaky and fearing the worst. ‘Who’s your alarm with?’ I ask.
‘I don’t have one of those things,’ says Fliss laughing, ‘And after all this I don’t think I ever will. I’m in the car outside my place, thought I’d finish talking to you before going in,’ Fliss said.
‘Don’t go in, Fliss, call the police. They’ve tricked us, they’re in your house or they’ve been there. Call the police!’
As I say the final words I hear two sounds at the same time, glass smashing and Fliss screaming ‘No, no, no …’
Polly Robinson © 2012